Several years ago, after reading James Collins and Jerry Porras book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, I took a leap of faith and wrote my own Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). One of the examples of a compelling BHAG that the authors shared was that of our nation’s Moon Mission in the 1960s. President Kennedy’s proclamation on May 25, 1961, “that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” Although outrageous, that bold commitment was the catalyst that moved the U.S. forward in the “Space Race” and ultimately achieved Kennedy’s lofty goal.
My First BHAG
So, after reading Built to Last, and leaping out in faith, I wrote my own BHAG as part of my company’s 2011 strategic planning process. The following was written in February 2011, a little over six years ago now:
“In 30 years, Cummings Appraisal Group, Inc. (“CAG’) will truly be “World-Class” – the “Subway” franchise of the commercial real estate appraisal industry – with more offices in more countries than any other commercial real estate services company. CAG Associates will be part of the world’s largest network of valuation professionals and one of the industry’s most recognized brands, with the support and experience that goes along with it – a brand that keeps clients coming back for appraisal and valuation services they can trust. CAG will be the undisputed leader in fast, professional valuation services, with leading-edge technology and a wide variety of products designed for every type of valuation specialty and property type. Whether as a company-sponsored Managing Director or as an independent business owner, when appraisal professionals join the CAG Family, they will be able to leverage a world-class support system including training, business development, marketing and sales, technical support, and more!”
Gathering Dust on the Shelf
As was usually the case in those days, our strategic planning process was not as formalized as it is now (more on that in an upcoming blog post), and this strategic plan document, along with the accompanying BHAG vision statement, went into a binder and got put up on a shelf, not to be looked at for another year until our next annual strategic planning session. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous!
In April 2011, two months after I had written the above BHAG, I received an email from an MAI-designated member of the Appraisal Institute from Boston. Attached was a long-form, five-page, sales-like letter asking if I would be interested in helping to form a new global commercial real estate appraisal firm. I responded in the affirmative and sent this MAI a few thousand dollars as requested so he could hire a corporate start-up attorney. In June 2011, the principals of 18 boutique commercial appraisal firms came together in Cambridge, Massachusetts to form “Cambridge Property Advisors”, now “Valbridge Property Advisors”.
We elected our Board of Directors, Chairman of the Board, and four Operating Officers; created numerous Committees; and decided upon answers for 59 Agenda Items the start-up attorney had posed for us. I was asked to lead that initial organizational meeting and was elected “Corporate Secretary”, one of the original four Operating Officers for the new company. I later served as Director of Operations (and my office served as our corporate office for over a year prior to us hiring our current CEO/President) and Chief Technology Officer, and I am now serving as Vice President of Templates & Software. However, one of my biggest contributions was as the “front-man” and one of the leading forces behind our expansion from 18 to 40+ firms. Today, Valbridge Property Advisors is the largest independent commercial real estate appraisal and advisory services firm in the United States, with 68 offices, 200 MAI-designated appraisers, and 675+ total staff nationwide.
A “Hair-Raising” Experience!
In early 2012, I pulled our prior year’s Strategic Plan binder off the book shelf and read the BHAG I had written nearly a year before. As I did so, the hair literally stood up on the back of my neck! I was absolutely dumbfounded! What I had written down back in February 2011 had virtually come to pass! No, it was exactly what I had envisioned. It was not my firm. It was a bigger firm that my firm was now a part of. And it wasn’t global yet, though we still have aspirations in that regard. However, the rest of it, many parts of it, had become true, in just one year. What I thought would take 30 years has come to pass in only six years. It truly boggled my mind!
Miracles DO Happen When You Write Down Your Goals!
I read a LOT of self-development books. I’m going to create a document where I list all of my favorite business and self-development books (stay tuned). They ALL tout the power and benefits of writing down your goals. I believe there is miraculous power in doing so. By the simple act of writing down your goals, some miraculous Power of the Universe intervenes and sets in motion opportunities and events that you can hardly believe, until you see it put into play in your own life or business. Try it. IT WORKS!!